Day Five

Our agenda today is to:

  1. give and receive feedback on yesterday´s presentations,
  2. do any revisions to slideshows, posters and handouts
  3. write a short reflective blogpost about experiences of the course.

All completed materials will appear on this website during the day, as it is completed.

Some reflections

Dear Pat
Thank you for the course, it was very useful because I feel we all need the encouragement and instruction to do our academic writing, no matter at what stage in the process we are.
Even though I hoped that I could work on writing my thisis, when I was registering, I do not regret the time spent with this wonderful group of people and learning about their research outside of my box.
I learned some new concepts which I can relate to my research, and got some valuable feedback on my presentation. At the same time, I will take with me the experience of a learning community where peers share knowledge and teach each other.
In terms of writing, I found it useful to write my bio note which I will be able to use in the future. My slides, after some adjustments, will serve for a presentation in a conference on language and culture in Crete, so the time spent on creating them was well invested. I still need to ponder the usefulness of conference notes – I am not attaching them, especially because the reference list is on the last slide of the presentation.
I would like to thank you for your time and for being a good role model for us – as you are a prolific writer who loves writing.
See you in the fall,
kind regards,
Renata

Dear Pat.

When I received an email from Randi on the course design this was my reaction:

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Bjarnheiður Kristinsdóttir <bjarnheidur@gmail.com>
Date: 5 April 2018 at 13:33
Subject: Re: Academic Writing I: Rooms and starting time
To: Randi Whitney Stebbins <rws@hi.is>

Wow! That’s so exciting!

I love the course design (to make “an unconference”).
Looking forward to it 🙂
And the week sure did not disappoint me. Rather the exact opposite: you even managed to get me more excited throughout the week.
Despite little sleep (thinking about Rúna’s results) and intensive schedule I never lost focus and kept being enthusiastic and looking forward to each new day of our workshop.
There is this underlying/overarching feeling of satisfaction and I think the reason for that is: We worked hard, we received invaluable feedback, and we felt and saw our progress.
The workshop setup included parts that were vital to its success :
1. The tempo was set right from the beginning: We had to deliver either a draft or final version of one or two pieces of academic writing every day.
2. a) The goal was clear: We were preparing ourselves for a conference. b) And we did “the real thing”: We carried out hands-on practical exercises, the results of which we are able to use immediately in our work and the presentations were planned in a real conference way with limited time for presentation and for questions.
3. We covered the whole spectrum: We did a biography, an abstract, a poster, a slideshow, a handout, and last but not least the performance as we gave a presentation.
4. We had a feeling of a bigger audience: The WordPress page for the un-conference supported us in thinking about our international audience.
5. We received invaluable feedback: The constructive critique round on Friday was like a harvest festival after a great week.
And last but not least, we had great and experienced workshop leaders:
Randi constantly providing us with points to think about (especially when it comes to seeing Icelandic matters from a different perspective) and assisting us regarding the use of English, and
Pat giving short and concise introductions to each part of the workshop, clear instructions, having an extremely good and quick analytic eye for what we are doing (despite very diverse topics), and having a perfect feeling for structure (setting the scene) and how to engage people in getting further in their work together.
(Maybe I need to explain the last words a bit better:
Example 1: At the beginning it was not set in stone if we were to make a poster, handout, or slides first. Only after Pat getting a feel for the participants this was set clear. In this way the schedule was adapted to our needs and to how things evolved in our group. It gives participants the feeling that they matter. Maybe in another group it would have been set in another order, but in our group the order was made in such a way that it made perfect sense to all of us.
Example 2: For the reflexion session on Friday Pat made us sit in a circle without tables in front of us. I cannot explain exactly why, but this setup was very important and made our feeling that “we are a team, we are in this together” very strong. Not only this external scene was so well thought through but also Pat set rules about saying one positive thing and one suggestion for improvement and this supported us in giving constructive feedback where nobody got the feeling of being attacked in any way.)
And I forgot to mention our group of participants! (how could I?!) Without the others being so enthusiastic and hard working as well, the week would of course not have been the same 😊
So thank you again for a wonderful week!

Bea.

The course Academic writing I was a very intensive and productive course.
I produced more work in this week than I usually do for a much longer
period of time. Each day started with a talk from Pat about the topic of
the day where we learned the dos and don’ts of that day’s assignment, and
the rest of the day was spent working individually on the assignment. At
the end of the week we presented our work and gave and received feedback
on our presentation. This was a small group of friendly people and it was
fantastic to get the opportunity to present my study in this safe
environment and practice my presentation skills. No one was judging or
grading the assignments, only giving constructive criticism that helps to
better the project. I would say that this course is a must for every Ph.D.
student!”
Thank you again for a great week and I am looking forward to Academic
writing II
Íris

The academic writing 1 was for me a very challenging, helpful and fun course that got me thinking allot. Going through the process of preparing for a conference was very instructive and by publishing our work on the website of the course was an interesting and good way to build a professional network. I found it good to get this training, get constructive criticism and guidance with a good student group. We used active listening and critical thinking in understanding our topic better. Pat opened my eyes to new ideas of my research that I can explore.

Juliana

Reflections:

Although this week has been extremely busy I am beyond grateful for the guidance, the group participation as well as the teachers commitment in helping everyone. The conference set-up is fantastic because it really makes you wonder about how you would act at a real conference and this has been a great practice for the future. At this stage in my PhD journey it has been valuable to get this assistance and feedback both from fellow colleague as well as experienced teachers.

Runa

Dear Pat and Randi,

Thank you both for this great intesive week with a lot of hard work and thankfully a lot of outcome. It was a very good course and I would recommend all PhD students to take the opportunity if it comes again. Great teachers, great co-students and great atmosphere of learning and wisdom. We were so fortunate to get such a great teachers like Pat to the country with her huge experience and professionalism and also to have Randi in our team at the University. A wonderful week with wonderful teachers and some enthusiastic students. I dont regret one second of it and am looking forward to Academic writing II in the fall.

Best regards and thanks to both teachers and students,

Gyða Hjartardóttir, PhD student at Faculty of Social Work, University of Iceland.

Dear Pat
Thank you for the course, it was very useful because I feel we all need the encouragement and instruction to do our academic writing, no matter at what stage in the process we are.
Even though I hoped that I could work on writing my thisis, when I was registering, I do not regret the time spent with this wonderful group of people and learning about their research outside of my box.
I learned some new concepts which I can relate to my research, and got some valuable feedback on my presentation. At the same time, I will take with me the experience of a learning community where peers share knowledge and teach each other.
In terms of writing, I found it useful to write my bio note which I will be able to use in the future. My slides, after some adjustments, will serve for a presentation in a conference on language and culture in Crete, so the time spent on creating them was well invested. I still need to ponder the usefulness of conference notes – I am not attaching them, especially because the reference list is on the last slide of the presentation.
I would like to thank you for your time and for being a good role model for us – as you are a prolific writer who loves writing.
See you in the fall,
kind regards,
Renata

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Day Four

 

It’s unconference day. Yay! We have been working up to this all week.

The unconference format uses relatively “generous” time – twenty minutes for presentations and then ten minutes for questions of  clarification, and general questions.

Our unconference programme:

  • 9-9.15 Loading up the presentations
  • 9.15-9.45 Pascale
  • 9.45-10.15 Jakob
  • 10.15 – 10.45 Bea
  • 11 15-11.45 Renata
  • 11.45-12.15 Iris Dögg
  • 12.15 – 12.45 Juliana
  • 1.30- 2 Runa
  • 2 – 2.30 Gyda

We are recording each person’s presentation using ‘lecture capture’. However these recordings will not be published on the hiunconference site; they will be available on the intranet so that people can watch themselves and consider their own “performance”, after the course is over.

We will provide feedback on everyone’s presentation tomorrow, not today – today runs conference style. But as audience members, we are each looking at everyone’s content and delivery. We are thinking about:

Content – Could I understand what was said?  Was the purpose of the paper clear? Was there enough information about the context? Was the argument logical? Was enough evidence presented?  Were all the key terms and ideas explained? Was there anything missing? Was the topic interesting?

Delivery – slides – were the slides clear and easy to understand? were they too busy? dull? in the right order? Was there anything that might have made them more eye appealing?

Delivery – person – did the speaker make eye contact with the audience? did they hold my interest? did they communicate their enthusiasm for the topic? did they seem authoritative?

And you’ll be able to see some pics of presentations in action appearing throughout the day, here below…..

Pascale, Jakob and Bea:  Session One

Juliana, Renata and Iris Dögg: Session Two

Gyda and Runa: Final session.

 

 

 

 

 

Day Three

Today we are working with conference posters. We are using Colin Purrington´s Powerpoint templates – these are a good way to get started, and people can make up their own individual designs later.

Although some people haven´t quite finished with their slideshows, everyone has a sequence of material and content. Preparing a poster is a way to check on this – to revisit what is in the slideshow, as well as add some more words. The research poster format we are using is generally around 1k words* – and it´s not too hard to turn a poster into a two sided A4 conference handout.  This process of preparing iterative versions of the paper to come, adding words each time, usually means that by the time you come to write the paper you are pretty sure of what you want to write.

Academic posters are a genre in their own right. While they generally maintain the moves of an an academic journal article, they also have a strong visual grammar, so the work that we thought about yesterday in relation to what makes posters visually interesting and readable is also important today. (For anyone interested in posters as genre here is a place to start reading.)

We talked a little – or perhaps I talked – about conference formats – symposia, individual papers, refereed and non refereed papers, roundtables and posters. Round-tables and posters can be seen as second class presentation options, but when these formats work well, they are a way to have longer and less formal conversations with people who are really interested in your work. Whether this happens depends on how the conference treats roundtables and posters –   dedicated time and a good space can make a difference to how conference participants see these options.

PM

Today was actually working on slides and/or posters – depending where people were at. It was pretty quiet most of the day and everyone worked hard on mouse and screen. But everyone was still working on their posters at the end of the day. three were pretty close to completion. It´s tricky and time consuming making posters look attractive as well as have all the required information. We have decided  to publish the posters and slides on Friday, so that people can have tonight to go over their slideshows and practice their talks and timings for tomorrow.

We finished the day with a brief discussion about peer feedback on presentations – of that, more tomorrow.

  • Of course posters can be less words than this. If you are working with visual data or analysis for instance, then you´ll clearly use less words because you just won´t have the space. But if your goal is to tell people about the purpose of your study, situate it in the field, talk about your methods, and give headline results and their implications you do need more than a few words in your word budget. So if the purpose of your poster is to raise questions or to be provocative, for example, you’ll need  something different. As we are using the conference poster as a means to get to a paper, then the larger word count works for us.

 

Day Two

We began today on slides. This might seem counter – intuitive, surely you do these last –  but it can be helpful to prepare slides early as a way of working towards a paper. The slides can then be revised after the paper is finished. The slides work as a kind of storyboard outline, a thinking tool.

Starting with slides after writing the abstract means taking three steps:

  1. working out what “stuff” goes in the presentation
  2. working out the order of “stuff”- getting the sequencing right
  3. working out how the chunks of “stuff” translate into a set of slides – or moves.

We watched a couple of presentations about presentations  – very meta – both of which highlighted the importance of not having too much “stuff” on each slide and the potential for slides to distract the audience from what is being said.

and

Everyone will have 20 minutes to present on Thursday so the number of slides to prepare is already limited by what is possible in that time frame.

We briefly discussed the possibility of revising abstracts, thinking in particular about titles and the benefits of using a “take home message: description of project” format. A take home message in the title can help focus the work to be done in developing the paper, including the next step of making slides.

We have also had the occasional conversation about the difficulty of writing/thinking in English. This is a complex issue. All doctoral researchers, regardless of language, have to learn how to do scholarly argument; but this is not the same as grappling with the limitations of vocabulary, the idiosyncrasies of English, and the un-translatability of some concepts from one context to another. And then there are the geopolitics of academic publishing. All tricky to navigate particularly when combined with presenting at international conferences and writing a papers based PhD.

 

Image resources: Unsplash – free images use with acknowledgements

Flickr The Commons – look for Creative Commons licensed images . use with acknowledgements

 

Day One Programme

We began the morning with introductions. Introducing each other, the idea of the un-conference and this website. I talked a little about conferences and the ways in which conference are sites of knowledge production and reproduction and sites for identity formation and scholarly performance. I mentioned networking and how that might be around building a scholarly community and/or  building a profile, a a reputation and carving out a career.

There was some discussion of different types and sizes of conference – and their cost – as well as the work that abstracts do. I couldn’t not mention that some conferences are hard to get into, and that postgraduate conferences, with their pedagogical intent, are often somewhat easier to access. We briefly mentioned reviewing and the benefits and perils of the reviewing process. I referred to the lack of research on academic conferences – although see Emily Burford and Jamie Henderson Conference Inference website for a compilation of scholarship on conferences.

After a break, everyone worked on their bio-note. We had to think about how long the notes should be and what information we wanted to present about ourselves, and the visual image that we chose.The group had different views on whether writing a bio note in the third or first person was better. There are eight participants – you can read about them on the conference participants page. The bio-notes were published by lunchtime of Day One.

After lunch, the group revisited a pre-existing conference abstract with a view to revising it for the un-conference – and for publication on this site tomorrow morning. I suggested that, even if they were giving a paper using an already accepted abstract, that they use this un-conference as an opportunity to think about:

  • the title – does it say what the point, or the take home message, of the paper is to be?
  • the context – is there enough information in the abstract for the reader to understand the topic and the local situation in Iceland? This is particularly an issue if people are bringing an abstract from a specialist conference to this quite general and interdisciplinary un-conference.
  • the online format of the un-conference – is there additional information that can be provided simply though adding hyperlinks?
  • does the overall argument flow towards the point that is to be made?

Everyone then worked on their abstract for the remainder of the afternoon.